The Los Angeles County chief coroner has ruled Michael Jackson's death a homicide.
Jackson's doctor treated him for insomnia by injecting the anesthetic drug propofol into his arm shortly before he
died. According to The Associated Press, which obtained a copy of Jackson's autopsy report, toxicology tests on autopsy
blood detected a large amount of propofol along with three other sedatives. It also was reported Jackson's arms "were
covered with punctures."
The coroner concluded Jackson's death was caused by the drugs, and it was a homicide because "the standard of care for
administering the drug was not met, and recommended equipment for patient monitoring, precision dosing and
resuscitation were missing."
No report suggests Michael Jackson was given drugs without his knowledge or against his will. According to the doctor's
affidavit, he gave Jackson "five separate doses of sedatives ... from 1:30 to 7:30 a.m.," and when they didn't work, he
administered propofol "after repeated demands/requests from Jackson."
A court document said police found "about eight" bottles of propofol in Jackson's home, along with other sedatives
prescribed by several doctors.
If these reports are accurate, Michael Jackson was addicted to prescription drugs.
The manner of death in such cases is a matter of debate.
In 1996, the National Association of Medical Examiners surveyed its members, asking their opinions on manner of death
in 23 hypothetical scenarios, two of which were drug overdose deaths.
In the first scenario, "a well-known drug abuser was found dead by one of his fellow junkies." He had a very high level
of morphine in his blood.
Of the 198 medical examiners who responded, 61 percent said the death was an accident (death was unforeseen and
inadvertent); 1 percent, suicide (the deceased did it to himself); 1 percent, homicide (somebody else provided the
drug); and 34 percent, undetermined (not enough information to make a decision).
In the second scenario, "a young couple, both with a history of drug abuse, bought a packet of heroin from a new
dealer. Both were seated on the couch in the home of a friend, who was an eyewitness. The young man, being a gentleman,injected the first shot into his girlfriend's right arm with her consent." She collapsed and died, and a high level of
morphine (metabolite of heroin) was found in her blood.
Thirty-nine percent of the medical examiners said they would classify this death homicide (somebody else administered
the lethal injection). Fifty percent still said accident (she wanted it), and 10 percent thought it was undetermined
(couldn't make up their minds).
That case is a lot like the death of Michael Jackson, isn't it? Somebody else gave the injection that caused death, but
the person who died knew what the drug was and wanted it.
If Michael Jackson had been a run-of-the-mill junkie, a majority of medical examiners wouldn't certify his death a
homicide, even though somebody else gave the injection. But he was rich, famous, superbly talented and widely
I wonder how much difference that made.
Dr. Carol J. Huser, a forensic pathologist, has served as La Plata County coroner since January 2003.